We've all had it. A employee who despite multiple requests to change a behaviour in the workplace keeps repeating old mistakes.

Could be how they handle customers. Could be poor cleaning. Could be how they prepare food. Could be constantly arriving late or how they manage costs. Could be anything.

You've done the right thing. You have tried sitting them down and explaining their behaviour isn't in line with what you want. You have used calm coaching techniques from those fancy management courses to try and communicate what needs to change. You have even tried hard ass verbal and written warnings.

Maybe their behaviour changes for day, a week or not at all. But every time they, eventually, go back to old behaviours and IT DRIVES YOU NUTS!!

This is one of the most frustrating parts of management. It's hair pulling, screaming moments where you often find yourself at wits end.

So why don't these employees listen and make the shift in behaviour you have asked? Why!?! For the love of god...WHY??! Well there are a few common answers...Your fault answers...

1. Poor Communication.

Perhaps, in your mind you have clearly communicated what you want. But just because it makes sense to you, doesn't mean your employee understands and chances are you simply didn't articulated the change you want clearly. Everyone communicates, learns and understands differently and you may need to adjust your style of communication. A good tip is to explain it to an independent third person and seek feedback on how you can improve clarity and try again.

2. Skills.

Another possible explanation is the employee hasn't been trained and coached in the skills required to achieve the behavioural changes you want. You may have spoken to them about their customer service but haven't taken the time to show them personally what you want and coach them through the steps to achieve the same.Rather than performance management, focus on training. Help them to understand not only the change you want but why.

3. Ingrained Habit.

The longer you leave bad behaviour, the harder it is to shift. If the unwanted behaviour has been going on for sometime unquestioned, both you and the employee will have to work a lot harder to make a correction. Leave it too long and it can be almost impossible to rectify.

4. Confidence. 

The problem is often personal. The employee may understand the behavioural changes you want and actually WANT to make the shift, but personal insecurities hold them back. Solving this takes some digging to help uncovered the personal insecurities or issues that are holding back change before giving a lot of positive feedback on their journey to the required behaviour.

5. Poor Attitude. 

Sad to say...sometimes employees just don't care about you, the business or the job enough to make changes asked. They know what you want and how to do it but, well, simply don't care enough to make an effort to shift. Like it or lump it, you are going to have to look to exit these type of employees from the business as quickly and painlessly as possible. Using formal warnings and performance management techniques to get them exited as quickly as possible for benefit of everyone.

6. Premature Promotion. 

It's great to promote from within. Employees love it this type of culture. However, if you are unable to get the behaviours from someone who has been promoted, it could be they were not ready and your simply asking to much too soon of them. Review their role and, if you can, roll back some of their responsibilities in such a way as not to demotivate them but given them time to slowly transition into the role and expectations.

7. Wrong Job.

Sometime all the coaching and chats to shift behaviour won't help if you have an employee who is simply in the wrong job. An employee who is naturally creative rather that detailed focus may never be able to meet you expectations in improving their paperwork organisation. Either find a better place for them in the business or look to support them to exit the business and find something more suited to their natural skills. So there you have it. The reasons we all pull our hair out from time to time managing people. Changes are their reason for not making the changes you want are one or more of the above. Sometimes you can help and someones you can't. The important thing is to make a decision and act.


Simon Ingleson

CEO/Founder @ RosterElf

Magically Simply Rostering Software